Company claims lower costs than fractional ownership for unlimited air hours in Columbia 350 four-seaters

An aero club offering members affordable access to Columbia 350 light aircraft has began operations at six locations in southern California. Co-founded by Erik Linbergh, iFly offers unrestricted use of the four-seat aircraft for lower initial, monthly and hourly costs than fractional owners, the company says.

The first six Garmin G1000-equipped Columbia 350s are being based at Carlsbad, Long Beach, Orange County, Santa Monica and Torrance airports in California, but iFly plans to expand nationally. The company launched operations on 14 September.

The scheme offers shared owner-flown access to the $450,000 aircraft for an initial membership fee of just under $40,000, monthly dues of less than $1,800 and an hourly use fee of $70. Based on an expected 150h per year usage over the five-year programme, total cost of access is estimated at less than $245,000.

A low 4:1 member-to-aircraft ratio assures higher availability, says iFly, and there is no limit on flight hours or overnight trips. The company is responsible for aircraft management, insurance, maintenance, ground facilities, scheduling and training. “Member pilots simply schedule the aircraft on-line, show up and fly,” iFly says.

Meanwhile Columbia has received Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) certification for the Garmin G1000-equipped 350 and 400, following validation by CASA of the Avidyne Entegra-equipped version.

Source: Flight International